February 16, 2005 10:00 AM PST
Google soups up search toolbar
Available free in beta at Toolbar.google.com, the downloadable software lets people search the Web from a static box on the Internet Explorer Web browser and block annoying pop-up ads.
Version 3 of the software also lets people automatically check their spelling in Web forms; translate words in English into several languages; and add Web links to certain plain text. For example, an address could be enhanced with a hypertext link to its location on a map, with the click of a button on the toolbar.
"All these features add up to less cutting and pasting," said Marissa Mayer, Google's director of consumer Web products.
The software joins a fleet of new toolbars from mainstream and niche Internet companies alike. Many such companies are trying to ingratiate themselves on consumer desktops for marketing purposes. Google, for example, makes money from sponsored listings that appear after people perform a Web search, whether it's from the desktop, the browser or its own site.
Last week, Yahoo introduced a version of its search toolbar for the Firefox Web browser, which has quickly become a contender to Microsoft's dominant IE. Mayer would not comment on whether Google is developing a version for Apple Computer's Safari or Firefox Web browsers, but the search giant in recent months has developed deeper ties with the Mozilla Foundation, the open-source group that created Firefox.
Google's newest toolbar will be in beta for two months, Mayer said, and will then be released more widely. Mayer indicated that the application does not follow Google's more limber policy on Web betas, which can last for several years.
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